'Bold plan for the future' — Serna steers Milwaukee nonprofit into next 20 years
Milwaukee Business Journal, September 2021
Art Serna has come to realize that one of the greatest ways to impact change in a community begins with listening. Since he became CEO of the Milwaukee nonprofit City on a Hill, Serna has been conducting a citywide listening tour to find out more about the challenges in the Milwaukee community and how different leaders are addressing those challenges.
Students find virtual service trips can have a big impact
Global Brigades organizes international service trips for college students, enlisting them to fundraise and volunteer to bring sustainable public health improvements to rural communities around the world. The organization establishes medical clinics, community banks and water and sanitation infrastructure in the communities they partner with.
Campus organizations offer fall retreats to students
Marquette Wire, October 2021
CAMPus Impact, an organization that “seeks to broaden Marquette students’ perspectives by introducing them to the beauty of Milwaukee,” will host Fall Break Service Immersion Experience Oct. 21-23 at City on a Hill.
Continued at Marquette Wire
Nonprofit group helps Milwaukee families who lack insurance
AP News via Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, October 2019
Though Edwards did not qualify for insurance, she was able to get the medicine she needed through City on a Hill. This is because City on a Hill specializes in working with people like Edwards — who are left out of the health insurance system.
Continued at AP News via Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
The redevelopment sends “a message that this part of the city is worthy of investment and is a good place to work, do business and hold community events,” said Diane De La Santos, executive director of City on a Hill, a faith-based organization that works to reduce poverty through youth education and development, and health and social programs.
Growing up without a computer was difficult for 16-year-old Jasmine Coleman.
"I have to go to my after-school program or go to the library in order to complete my homework assignments," she said.
However, that all changed in December thanks to Digital Bridge.
When he and his Milwaukee School of Engineering classmates built a computer lab in a rural Kenyan village school in 2010, Jeff Hanson learned firsthand about the inequalities that exist in access to technology.
Then a 19-year-old sophomore participating in his college’s servant leadership program, the Janesville native said the experience opened his eyes. After returning to MSOE, he began to understand that similar disparities exist in Milwaukee as well.
Hanson continued working on projects in developing countries, honed his computer rebuilding skills and earned Microsoft Registered Refurbisher status.
Continued at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service or download PDF.
The digital gap across America, and specifically in a socially and economically segregated city like Milwaukee, presents challenges to teens and families in poverty who are just trying to do basic things like apply for jobs, complete homework assignments, pay bills, make decisions on major purchases, or participate in civic activities.
City on a Hill is working to bridge that digital divide by partnering with the local nonprofit Digital Bridge. In a pilot program, young people gained computer skills to express themselves artistically and developed the technical skills necessary in many careers.
Digital Bridge of Milwaukee joined Mayor Tom Barrett, Spectrum representatives, and leaders from area businesses and nonprofits on February 7 at a special event to unveil plans for a new initiative, referred to as “Bridge Milwaukee.”
The effort will allow Digital Bridge to join forces with area nonprofits to provide an innovative program that combines digital literacy with access to high-speed broadband and a working device. The new initiative is supported through a $32,500 Spectrum Digital Education Grant and Digital Bridge’s partnerships with area businesses and community organizations.
At the event, Digital Bridge announced initial agreements with City on a Hill, Riverwest Food Pantry and Riverworks Center to host Bridge Milwaukee sessions at their facilities in early 2019, with additional sessions planned as more Milwaukee area non-profits learn about the program and of its availability.
Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp. announced it will donate $500,000 in grants to 22 local nonprofit organizations through the company’s Hometown Giving Program.
The funding, which is generated by the Kohl’s Cares philanthropic program, will support Milwaukee-area programs focused on health and wellness, arts and culture, conservation, education and social services.
To celebrate the Season of Giving, presented byGruber Law Offices, youth from City on a Hill - Milwaukee were treated to a night they won't forget at Kohl's!! #NBACares
Some members of the Milwaukee Bucks spent the afternoon with kids and took them shopping. It was all part of 'Shop With A Buck.' The players went to the Kohl's at Bayshore as part of the Bucks' Season of Giving. The event helps the kids get ready for the holiday season by shopping for gifts.
Malcolm Brogdon, Pat Connaughton and Tony Snell spent Monday evening with a group of 12 kids to help them get ready for the holiday season during the annual “Shop with a Buck” event at Kohl’s at Bayshore Town Center. Check out the attached slideshow from Milwaukee Business Journal freelance photographer Kenny Yoo to see photos from the event.
Marquette Univeristy's Alpha Epsilon Delta fraternity raised money for City on a Hill during the Monster Dash. The pre-professional fraternity is partnering with City on a Hill to help raise money through local fundraisers, and through volunteering.
"The Carroll community will continue a longstanding tradition of giving time to non-profits in the Milwaukee and Waukesha areas on Sept. 29 when it celebrates 10 years of its Carroll University Volunteer Day.
Alumna Diane De La Santos ’81 is executive director at City on a Hill, one of the partner sites for CU Volunteer Day. She said volunteers help make the agency’s work possible in serving hundreds of children and families."
"Diane De La Santos, executive director of City on a Hill, watched Vaulx grow throughout the nine years she’s been participating in the organization’s Youth Center. “She’s quite an accomplished young singer,” De La Santos said. “What I often hear people say when they hear Princess sing, is that the song seemed to come from her heart. She’s a quiet young lady in conversation and so forth, but when she sings, she just really pours her heart out and pours her heart into her music.”
"City on a Hill recently celebrated the conclusion of its summer Youth Employment Program, which provided jobs for nine 14- to 18-year olds from the organization’s youth programs.
“It’s just been amazing to me to see them grow into their roles, moving from being just youth trainees to being real employees who have developed a serious work ethic and commitment to their jobs,” said Youth Center Manager Kelly Scroggins."
"A Struggling Community Finds Hope: City On a Hill works to combat the cycle of poverty with programs targeting the physical, social and spiritual health of youth and families."
"In this segment, 414ward talked with Diane De La Santos. She is the executive director of 'City on a Hill' where she's made it her mission to eradicate chronic poverty by addressing the needs of the whole family."
"Darryl Johnson, Diane De La Santos and Gretchen Mead were honored at the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation earlier this month, which celebrated the “good news” of successful efforts to revitalize neighborhoods. They join us to discuss what things are happening to improve the city, and what still needs to be done."
"Community members can now vote for individuals or organizations to win the MANDI People’s Choice Award, the only award chosen by a popular vote. The top three vote-getters each will win a $1,000 prize."
"De La Santos has brought major improvements to the community, including the recent renovation and expansion of a free health care clinic, establishment of youth programs focusing on academic and life skills, and construction of high-quality low-income housing at City on a Hill. In addition, associates and community members who have benefitted from her work point to the concern and care De La Santos puts into each of her relationships."
"In addition to developing housing for low-income people, City on a Hill pursues its mission to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, break the cycle of generational poverty, and train and engage others in solutions to poverty through a growing number of programs, services and initiatives. These include youth programs, a free health clinic and monthly health outreach, social services, a food pantry, neighborhood outreach, adult support groups, mission trips and racial reconciliation workshops."
"During this holiday season, WUWM reporters are sharing stories of local people who give back to the community. In this installment of our year-end series Life's Voices, we meet Diane De La Santos. She works in urban ministry as executive director of City on a Hill, a non-profit on Milwaukee's west side. It provides a number of services, including a free health clinic and afterschool programs for central city youth, making the job a natural tie-in with passions De La Santos has had her whole life."
“The MANDIs celebrate Milwaukee’s diverse neighborhoods, and the many talented, committed people working together to create a better future for our communities,” said Donsia Strong Hill, executive director of LISC Milwaukee.
City on a Hill was selected as a finalist for the The BMO Harris Cornerstone Award, which "recognizes an organization for their commitment and effectiveness over time".
City on a Hill's Executive Director, Diane De La Santos, was selected as a finalist for The Northern Trust Navigator Award, which "recognizes an individual for leadership and collaboration".
"In an effort to make a strong impact on the Milwaukee community, 10 Bucks interns teamed up with City on a Hill to enhance the community organization’s Neighborhood BBQ."
"People may say, ‘I’m color-blind,’ but we are not color-blind in this society,” Diane says. “America is a racialized society, meaning that race matters. Race matters in America in ways that harm people.”
The result is what she calls “racial residue."
"Through the grace of serendipity and perhaps a higher power, all of the Community Clinic’s medical equipment, exam tables, microscopes, unused needles, family planning items, scales and much more were donated to City on a Hill in Milwaukee for its new free clinic space."
"Lawson now has inner drive to give back. “Even though I used to be in the situation where I was the receiver, now that I’m able to give, I actually want to give back to my community,” she says. Lawson doesn’t need to be convinced to give up her Saturday to service. Instead she thinks, “When do you need me there? ... Are we going to walk around the neighborhood today? I love the things we do at City on a Hill. I love interacting with people. I love my community.””
"Three in ten people in the United States live in poverty, and those numbers are even worse for children. In Milwaukee County, the number is close to 74,000 children who live in poverty, which equals to a little more than thirty two percent. The numbers were released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Society."
CBS 58 spoke with a local organization and a young girl about beating the odds."
"Aurora Health Care recently announced that it is awarding a total of $6.6 million in grants through its Better Together Fund to nearly two dozen federally qualified health centers and free clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin. The funds will be used to help community-based providers improve access to primary care and behavioral health services."
"There are 19 Safe & Sound locations in Milwaukee called Safe Places, where youth go for after-school activities. Norma Balentine, who is in charge of after-school programs at City on a Hill, said that giving youth a positive place to go helps them stay away from crime and gangs."
"Drequan is not alone. I sat down with him and a few other students who spend their evenings at the youth center City on a Hill on Milwaukee’s near west side. I asked if violence affects their lives, and each shared stories."
"For her extraordinary service as Executive Director of city on a Hill, Diane De La Santos is the recipient of the April Wisconsin Heroes Award."
"City on a Hill, a faith-based nonprofit agency, is seeking affordable housing tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to help finance construction of 32 duplex and townhouse units at 2303 W. State St. The project would be a co-housing development with green space and a 4,000-square-foot community center."
"City on a Hill, a church group that has led the former hospital's redevelopment, wants to build up to 36 townhouse and duplex rental units on a 2.4-acre parking lot between N. 23 and N. 24th streets, south of W. State St."
"Pastor Diane and her colleague Cherrlyn of City on a Hill visited the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee studios to talk about how their organization meets the needs of Milwaukee's central city."
"Another developer that applied for city rezoning in late November is City on a Hill Inc., Milwaukee, which plans to build 32 townhouse-style apartments to replace a parking lot at West State and North 23rd streets, said executive director Diane De La Santos. City on a Hill in July opened 51 affordable apartments for seniors in the William A. Passavant elderly residential care complex, 2195 W. State St., which was built using tax credits."
"Children's laughter fills the air at a park near 29th and Melvina in Milwaukee. Henrietta Cloyd, a longtime resident, observes, "Children are enjoying the parks for a change. We've been beautifying parks again and the neighborhood seems quite a bit better, more positive.""
"Before City on a Hill opened its doors, crime, drugs and prostitution were daily obstacles for nearby residents. Much has changed in the decade since the ministry has made its home at 2224 W. Kilbourn Ave., the former Good Samaritan Medical Center. Local law enforcement acknowledges the work of Diane’s team as a factor in lowered crime and the community’s transformation."
"Towards the end of my interview with Diane De La Santos from City On A Hill, I asked her a somewhat hard question because I knew she could give me a thoughtful answer: "Since you work with people in need, do your friends and family ever feel like you might be putting yourself in danger?" Her answer is elegant and beautiful."
"On the second Friday and Day 12 of 50 in Meet The Need, we head to the Avenues West neighborhood and the work being done at City On A Hill. Serving that community with everything from a health clinic to youth programs to assistance with basic needs, their work is guided by an intuitive but oftentimes under-considered approach — ask the community what they want and then figure out a way to provide it for them. Diane De La Santos, Executive Director of City On A Hill takes us inside their work."